THE VIRGINIAN: RIDE TO DELPHI (1966, USA) ***½
net. National Broadcasting Company (NBC); pr co. Universal Television; d. Anton Leader; w. Andy Lewis (based on a story by Don Tait); exec pr. Frank Price; pr. Joel Rogosin; ph. Enzo A. Martinelli (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Russell Garcia; m sup. Stanley Wilson; th. Percy Faith; ed. Michael R. McAdam; ad. George Patrick; set d. John McCarthy Jr., James M. Walters Sr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; sd. Earl Crain Jr. (Mono); tr. 21 September 1966; r/t. 73m.
cast: James Drury (The Virginian), Charles Bickford (John Grainger), Don Quine (Stacey Grainger), Sara Lane (Elizabeth Grainger), Angie Dickinson (Annie Carlson), Harold J. Stone (Einar Carlson), Warren Oates (Buxton), Ron Russell (Lemoine Carlson), Bernie Hamilton (Ransome Kiley), John Kellogg (Sheriff), Robert Cornthwaite (Judge), Stephen Coit (Welk), Ross Hagen (Tern), Byron Berry (Elber Kiley), Myron Berry (Jethro Kiley), Boyd Stockman (Stagecoach Driver), George DeNormand (Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)), George Ford (Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)), Fred Krone (Brawler (uncredited)).
(s. 5 ep. 2) The Virginian counted 50 cows that were delivered to Grainger but the next morning five of them are missing. The Virginian feeling responsible tracks the stolen cattle down but finds himself arrested on murder charges and can’t explain it. Drury is at his stoic best in this episode of secrets and blackmail. Dickinson is excellent as the ex-saloon girl trying to make good as Stone’s wife. Best of all is Hamilton as a dignified black sodbuster out to make an honest living for himself and his boys. Russell overplays his spoilt brat role, but that is the only negative aspect of this strong and emotive episode.
THE VIRGINIAN: LEGACY OF HATE (1966, USA) ***½
net. National Broadcasting Company (NBC); pr co. Universal Television; d. Don McDougall; w. Frank Chase; exec pr. Frank Price; pr. Winston Miller; ph. Ray Rennahan (Technicolor. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); m. Jack Hayes, Leo Shuken; m sup. Stanley Wilson; th. Percy Faith; ed. Robert F. Shugrue; ad. George Patrick; set d. John McCarthy Jr., James M. Walters Sr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; sd. Earl Crain Jr. (Mono); tr. 14 September 1966; r/t. 75m.
cast: James Drury (The Virginian), Charles Bickford (John Grainger), Doug McClure (Trampas), Don Quine (Stacey Grainger), Sara Lane (Elizabeth Grainger), Jo Van Fleet (Lee Calder), Jeremy Slate (Jim Dawson), L.Q. Jones (Belden), Ross Elliott (Sheriff Mark Abbott), Tyler McVey (Gillman), Dennis McCarthy (Cooper), Clyde Howdy (Nash), Ed Prentiss (Parker), Elizabeth Harrower (Mrs. Grant), Troy Melton (Ed), Bob Hoy (Pete), Robert Board (Townsman (uncredited)), Jimmie Booth (Lee’s Carriage Driver (uncredited)), George DeNormand (Townsman (uncredited)).
(s. 5 ep. 1) The new owner of Shiloh quickly finds his hot-headed grandson accused of cattle rustling. He learns his neighbour is the widow of a friend who died with him. The sullied family name reduces their finance options putting Shiloh in jeopardy. Season five opens with a strong episode built around Bickford and Van Fleet. Lane and Quine are also introduced as Bickford’s devoted granddaughter and volatile grandson and acquit themselves well. The drama is resolved a little too neatly in its final act, but still another example of how the series retained a high quality producing up to 30 episodes a year at 75m each.
ALIAS SMITH AND JONES (TV) (USA, 1971) ***½
Distributor: American Broadcasting Company (ABC); Production Company: Universal Television; Release Date: 5 January 1971 (USA), 19 April 1971 (UK); Filming Dates: 8-28 October 1970; Running Time: 74m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Gene Levitt; Writer: Glen A. Larson, Douglas Heyes (based on a story by Glen A. Larson); Executive Producer: Frank Price; Producer: Glen A. Larson; Director of Photography: John M. Stephens; Music Composer: Billy Goldenberg; Film Editor: Bob Kagey; Art Director: George C. Webb; Set Decorator: Mickey S. Michaels; Costumes: Grady Hunt; Make-up: Bud Westmore, Larry Germain; Sound: Melvin M. Metcalfe Sr.
Cast: Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes (alias Joshua Smith)), Ben Murphy (Jed ‘Kid’ Curry (alias Thaddeus Jones)), Forrest Tucker (Deputy Harker Wilkins), Susan Saint James (Miss Porter), James Drury (Sheriff Lom Trevors), Jeanette Nolan (Miss Birdie Pickett), Earl Holliman (Wheat), Dennis Fimple (Kyle), Bill Fletcher (Kane), John Russell (Marshall), Charles Dierkop (Shields), Bill McKinney (Lobo), Sid Haig (Outlaw), Jerry Harper (Outlaw), Jon Shank (Outlaw), Peter Brocco (Pincus), Harry Hickox (Bartender), Owen Bush (Engineer), Julie Cobb (Young Girl).
Synopsis: A pair of outlaws seeking amnesty from the Governor must stay incognito and out of trouble in a town while a friend pleads their case. The wait is complicated by a lovely bank manager and the arrival of members of their former gang.
Comment: Light-hearted spin on BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) coasts on the charm of Duel and Murphy who are backed by a strong guest cast. Duel and Murphy play Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, two outlaws who are seeking amnesty as technology and improved communication systems put their train and bank robbing days behind them. The rest of their gang, led by the excellent Holliman, arrive in a town where Duel and Murphy have taken on honest jobs working as security in Saint James’ bank whilst Sheriff Drury puts their case to the governor. Tucker also scores as Drury’s dim-witted deputy, whilst Larson and Howard’s script is witty and entertaining. Levitt directs with a good feel for the tone required. This was the pilot for the subsequent TV series (1971-73), which ran for three seasons and 50 episodes with Roger Davis replacing Duel midway through the second season following the actor’s tragic suicide.
THE VIRGINIAN: THE MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN ***
1963 USA 75m Colour
National Broadcasting Company (NBC) / Revue Studios
The Virginian (Drury) acts as guide to three missionary women (Hart, Nolan and Strickland) who wish to take medicine and the word of God into the desert to a tribe of Yaqui Indians. The story has a strong script by Kleiner, which explores the wone’s motivations (they are trying to complete the work their husbands started before they were killed). Drury is commanding as ever and his gradual falling for Hart and her ultimate rejection of him is well-judged and handled by McEveety. The story only suffers in its rushed climax, which seems too pat in its exposition. Otherwise, this is another example of how strong the first season of The Virginian was. This was the last acting role for Hart, who devoted the rest of her life to religion as a nun.
exec pr. Roy Huggins; sup pr. Frank Price; pr. Warren Duff; d. Bernard McEveety; w. Harry Kleiner (based on a story by Lou Morheim); ph. Lionel Lindon; m. Sidney Fine, Richard Shores, Morton Stevens; m sup. Stanley Wilson; theme m. Percy Faith; ed. Edward Haire; ad. George Patrick; set d. John McCarthy Jr., James M. Walters Sr.; cos. Vincent Dee; m/up. Leo Lotito Jr., Florence Bush.
James Drury (The Virginian), Dolores Hart (Cathy Maywood), Jeanette Nolan (Helen Dyer), Amzie Strickland (Ruth Arlen), Joe De Santis (Gen. Rodello), Rico Alaniz (Bandido Leader), George Wallace (Dixon), Carlos Romero (Pedro), Clancy Cooper (Murphy), King Calder (Myers), Dale Johnson (Hotel Clerk), K.L. Smith (Bartender), Alex Montoya (Rafael), Gil Barreto (Mexican Peasant), Ida Augustian (Mexican Child), Rodolfo Acosta (Yaqui Leader).
RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (USA, 1962) ****
Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM); Release Date: 9 May 1962 (USA), 25 May 1962 (UK); Filming Dates: 16 October–22 November 1961; Running Time: 94m; Colour: Metrocolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (as CinemaScope); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Sam Peckinpah; Writer: N.B. Stone Jr.; Producer: Richard E. Lyons; Director of Photography: Lucien Ballard; Music Composer: George Bassman; Film Editor: Frank Santillo; Art Director: Leroy Coleman, George W. Davis; Set Decorator: Henry Grace, Otto Siegel; Make-up: William Tuttle, Mary Keats; Sound: Franklin Milton.
Cast: Randolph Scott (Gil Westrum), Joel McCrea (Steve Judd), Mariette Hartley (Elsa Knudsen), Ron Starr (Heck Longtree), Edgar Buchanan (Judge Tolliver), R.G. Armstrong (Joshua Knudsen), Jenie Jackson (Kate), James Drury (Billy Hammond), L.Q. Jones (Sylvus Hammond), John Anderson (Elder Hammond), John Davis Chandler (Jimmy Hammond), Warren Oates (Henry Hammond).
Synopsis: An ex-lawman is hired to transport gold from a mining community through dangerous territory. But what he doesn’t realize is that his partner and old friend is plotting to double-cross him.
Comment: Highly regarded Western makes the most of its slender storyline through a multi-layered script with strong characters and great performances from two stalwarts of the genre. McCrae and Scott are former lawmen of a bygone west, reduced to being hired guards to transport gold from a mine in the mountains. Along the way they take in young Starr and Hartley, who escapes her strictly religious father and falls in with young miner Drury and his psychotic family. The theme of men out of their time trying to recapture their pride is beautifully played by the stars, whose humorous interplay is the key attraction. Scott delivers perhaps his best performance in a flawed character role, whilst McCrae’s self-pride and sense of justice represent the old values. Peckinpah directs with flair and Ballard’s photography is gorgeous. The final film of Scott. Selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1992. Aka: GUNS IN THE AFTERNOON.
THE LAST WAGON (USA, 1956) ***½
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox; Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Release Date: 21 September 1956 (USA), 26 November 1956 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 April 1956 – early June 1956; Running Time: 99m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: 3 Channel Stereo (Westrex Recording System) (5.0) (L-R); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: CinemaScope; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
Director: Delmer Daves; Writer: Delmer Daves, James Edward Grant, Gwen Bagni (based on a story by Gwen Bagni); Producer: William B. Hawks; Director of Photography: Wilfred M. Cline; Music Composer: Lionel Newman; Film Editor: Hugh S. Fowler; Art Director: Lewis H. Creber, Lyle R. Wheeler; Set Decorator: Chester Bayhi, Walter M. Scott; Costumes: Mary Wills; Make-up: Ben Nye, Helen Turpin; Sound: Bernard Freericks, Harry M. Leonard.
Cast: Richard Widmark (Comanche Todd), Felicia Farr (Jenny), Susan Kohner (Jolie Normand), Tommy Rettig (Billy), Stephanie Griffin (Valinda Normand), Ray Stricklyn (Clint), Nick Adams (Ridge), Carl Benton Reid (Gen. Howard), Douglas Kennedy (Col. Normand), George Mathews (Sheriff Bull Harper), James Drury (Lt. Kelly), Ken Clark (Sergeant).
Synopsis: When a handful of settlers survive an Apache attack on their wagon train they must put their lives into the hands of a white man who has lived with the Comanches most of his life and is wanted for the murder of three men.
Comment: Widmark gives an imposing performance as a fugitive white man who has lived the life of a Comanche following the murder of his family. He falls in with a wagon train of settlers and looks to guide them through Apache country to safety. Stunning Arizona locations are gloriously captured through Cline’s lens. Whilst the story at times lapses into heavy-handedness – most notably in its final scenes, it is well directed by Daves, who manages to get good performances from his young cast. Its messaging may get preachy, but this is nevertheless a strong Western unafraid to tackle issues of racism and religion.
Long Chase, The (TV) (1972; USA; Technicolor; 74m) ∗∗½ d. Alexander Singer; w. Roy Huggins (as John Thomas James), Dick Nelson; ph. Gene Polito; m. John Andrew Tartaglia, Pete Rugolo. Cast: Ben Murphy, Roger Davis, J.D. Cannon, Rod Cameron, Buddy Ebsen, Marie Windsor, James Drury, Laurie Ferrone, Dave Garroway, George Keymas, Frank Sinatra Jr., Larry Storch, Sally Field. This is actually three episodes (“The Long Chase”, “High Lonesome Country”, and “The Clementine Ingredient”) of the classic wild west cowbuddy show of the Seventies Alias Smith and Jones edited into one TV movie. Two reformed criminals are constantly on the run from the law. The story strands are loose and clumsily edited, but there is still undeniable charm in the characters. [PG]